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Statement of Purpose


In recent years, there has been a proliferation of social justice and fair trade market claims leading to consumer confusion. Consumers are bombarded with claims, many of which are not applied consistently, lack relevant meaning, or do not tell the whole story of a product or program. At the same time, many organizations and companies are making tremendous progress in setting standards for fair trade and social justice or implementing fair business practices. There is a danger that these legitimate programs and practices will become indistinguishable from false or misleading claims without a more objective consumer education and outreach campaign.

The Domestic Fair Trade Association believes in fairness throughout the supply chain, including fairness to consumers. Toward this end the DFTA has committed itself to:

  • Providing information about specific fair trade and social justice programs to the public.
  • Promoting strong and legitimate programs.
  • Facilitating collaboration among programs seeking continual improvement.

We believe, together, these efforts will contribute to lasting change in the market place with benefits to farmers, workers, and mission-driven businesses.


The development of criteria for evaluating fair trade and social justice standards, certification programs, and labels has been a priority of the DFTA since its founding.  The criteria are based on our Principles of Domestic Fair Trade and were developed through a participatory process involving all stakeholder groups within the DFTA. The first round of evaluations were conducted in 2013 and published on the DFTA website in February 2014. The second round of evaluation were conducted in 2014 and published on the DFTA website in April 2015. Evaluations expire after two years from their publication date.

Read more about our methodology here.


Statement of Purpose

This evaluation of seven prominent fair trade /social justice certification programs, was identified as a priority by the DFTA for the purpose of understanding the current landscape and varying approaches of the programs. For now seven programs were selected, but more will be added going forward. Not all the programs self-identify as “fair trade”; the DFTA includes within the scope of its work any claim related to social or economic fairness in the marketplace. The purpose of the analysis is not primarily to “grade” the programs, although they are being compared not only to each other but at the same time to the DFTA Principles and criteria. Rather, the main purposes include:

  • to identify which Fair Trade, Social, and Economic Equity Principles are being adequately addressed by current programs
  • to identify which Principles or specific criteria perhaps represent generalized challenges in which the DFTA could play a role in creating models for implementation
  • to identify which programs already have such models in place, in cases in which one program stands out in its approach to a particular issue.

To this last point, it is hoped that this work can serve to further the dialogue between the various programs, and between programs and stakeholders, in order to promote and facilitate programs to continue to improve. In other words, the purpose is mainly to serve as a capacity building tool.  It may be of particular value to pay attention to areas where:

  • all the programs perform well, meaning there is perhaps already a stronger consensus.
  • none of the programs perform well, in which case either DFTA may be able to play a crucial role in developing innovative approaches, or alternately, may be off the mark with its criteria.
  • one program outshines the others.